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BRUSSELS, Jan 27: The Omicron variant of concern is currently spreading with unprecedented speed and intensity across the European Union and European Economic Area, with overall reported infection rates three times higher than the highest peak during the pandemic so far, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warned in a statement on Thursday. The very high numbers of infected people are exerting significant pressure in many countries around Europe through a combination of increased hospital admissions and staff shortages due to illness, it noted. Efforts should continue to increase vaccine uptake among the unvaccinated, as well as offering a booster shot after three months to all eligible adults, it recommended.
Stella Kyriakides, EU Commissioner for Health, commented that “while it is encouraging that the numbers of people falling severely ill and requiring hospital treatment have not followed the same path as Omicron cases, the virus still poses a serious threat, especially to the most vulnerable in our societies and the unvaccinated. ” “Whilst in some (EU) Member States, the peak of infection appears to have been reached recently, the pandemic is not over,” she added. Dr. Andrea Ammon, ECDC Director, said “despite the very high intensity of virus circulation in the community, countries with very high vaccination coverage are experiencing comparatively less impact in terms of intensive care need and mortality than in earlier waves. ” “This highlights the impact that COVID-19 vaccines are having on preventing severe COVID-19 cases and deaths,” added Ammon.(KUNA)-